Shades of Green at Walt Disney World Overview

This Deluxe resort is owned and operated by the U.S. Armed Forces and is open to U.S. military personnel (including members of the National Guard and reserves, retired military, and employees of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Department of Defense) and their families, foreign military personnel attached to U.S. units, and some civilian contractors. Shades of Green consists of one three-story building nestled among three golf courses, which are open to all Disney guests.

Shades of Green Hotel map

Even though the resort isn't operated by Disney, service is comparable to that at Disney Deluxe properties. Transportation to all theme parks is by bus, with a transfer required to almost all destinations. Walking time to the bus- loading area from the most remote rooms is about 5 minutes. The resort is immensely popular; make reservations seven months in advance.

Shades of Green completed a major expansion in 2004. The project added 299 guest rooms, 10 suites, a multilevel parking structure, an Italian restaurant, and a new family-style restaurant. You don't have to worry much about bad rooms at Shades of Green. Except for a small percentage that overlook the entrance road and parking lot, most offer views of the golf courses that surround the hotel, or the swimming area. When you book your reservation, make your preference known.

According to a serviceman from Fort Worth, Texas, Shades of Green is the way to go:

Shades of Green is the best-kept secret in Disney. It's actually a military resort in the Disney complex with all the benefits of being a Disney resort. It was a great deal, and military members usually look for the best deals. When my wife and I stayed there in May, we paid $58 a night [regular rates range from $95 to $275 depending on rank]. That is not per person. That was the total price. The rooms were huge. It had two double beds and a lot of room to spare. They also had VCRs in the rooms and a movie-vending machine on the second floor. Shades of Green is right across the street from the Polynesian Resort. It's about a 10- to 15-minute walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center. The hotel does have shuttle buses that take you to the TTC (about a 2-minute ride). Our overall stay at Shades of Green was wonderful.

A Minot AFB, North Dakota, father of three agrees (mostly):

As an active-duty military member, I can tell you there's no better deal on a WDW vacation than at Shades of Green. A couple of drawbacks, though, were the mid-level quality of the food at the Italian restaurant and the lack of a place to get a drink. Our first visit to this hotel was in 1996 just after it opened; if you haven't been since it was overhauled. Wow! You're in for a treat. We'll be back in 2010!

Finally, a mom from Winchester, Virginia, weighs in:

Shades of Green has an AAFES [Army & Air Force Exchange Service] on-site. In addition to carrying everything one might find in a hotel gift/sundries shop, this small store carries Disney merchandise. It's also a Class Six [a military version of a package store]. We were able to purchase everything we needed there and never had to leave WDW in search of a grocery store. Plus there's no tax on purchases. A huge time- and hassle-saver!

How Shades of Green Compares to Other Disney Resorts

Because Shades of Green isn't ran by Disney, service is less sugarcoated than at other Disney resorts. Shades of Green guests may take park in Extra Magic Hours, but they may not use Disney's Magical Express service. The resort offers its accommodations at rates based on a service member’s rank, as well as attraction tickets to the theme parks. For rates and other information, call (888) 593-2242 or see shadesofgreen.org. Shades of Green is also right next door to two gold courses.

Shades of Green's exterior.

Where To Check-In, Get Theme Park Tickets, and Make Dining Reservations

A security gate guards the entrance to Shades of Green's grounds. If you arrive by car, you'll need to provide photo ID at the gate; it's not necessary to provide your reservation number or paperwork. A dedicated parking lot across from the lobby serves as temporary parking for those who need it while checking in.

Check-in time at Shades of Green is 3:00 PM, and check-out time is 11:00 AM.

Look for signs pointing you to the Registration/Check-In area. You'll need to provide a government-issued photo ID and credit/debit card when you register.

Walt Disney World Shades of Green's Rooms

At 455 square feet each, the 586 guest rooms at Shades of Green are larger than those at the Grand Floridian. Decor is pleasant though thoroughly unremarkable, pretty much the same as at any mid-priced hotel. Most rooms have two queen-size beds, a daybed, and a table and four chairs, as well as a television in an armoire. All rooms have a patio or balcony.

A standard Shades of Green room.

Each Shades of Green room is furnished with the following:

The mini-fridge is a dorm-style unit that sits under a counter or desk. It's more like a beverage chiller than a refrigerator in that it'll keep drinks cool, but you're not going to freeze popsicles or make ice cubes in it.

Shades of Green's bathrooms aren't big, but they also aren't as small as the ones you'll find in Disney's moderate or value resort rooms. Luckily you won't feel claustrophobic in your room's bathroom. Water pressure in the shower is average - probably less than what you get at home, but still enough to get your hair clean. Eventually. A 1500-watt, wall-mounted hair dryer is provided, but it's not very powerful; bring your own if you've got lots of hair.

A standard Shades of Green bathroom

Walt Disney World Shades of Green Pools

Shades of Green has two pools. The largest, Mill Pond Pool, sits northeast part of the resort. There is also a hot tup, kiddie pool and water play area.

Left: Mil Pond Pool Right: Magnolia Pool.

There is also a smaller pool located on the east side of the resort. This pool is a basic concrete pools with minimal themeing, but it does have plenty of lounge chairs and tables around the pool.

Shades of Green's pools range in depth from around 3 feet 6 inches/1.1m to 4 feet 9 inches/1.4m. Pool are open every day, including during winter. The pools are heated to 82°F/28°C throughout the year. We've swum in temperatures as cold as 40°F/4°C; the water was fine, but getting out was a shock. Shades of Green also has a hot tub located near Mil Pond Pool.

Pool hours are at least 10 AM to 10 PM. Both pools will have lifeguards during the pools' operating hours.

You may need to bring your towels from your room to use at the pool - Shades of Green sometimes stocks extra towels poolside, and sometimes they don't. Our advice is to send someone down to the pool to check the towel situation before you go. If you end up using your room towels at the pool, just call Housekeeping when you get back and request more.

Pool toys are permitted in Shades of Green's pools, including "pool noodles," and basic toys that would be appropriate for water use such as rubber duckies and bucket & shovel sets. Some of us will occasionally bring something like a whiffle ball for playing catch in the pool. As long as you’re not disturbing other guests, you’ll be fine. Also note that kids with pool toys become very popular with other kids in the pool who want to play too. If you’re traveling with an only child and want him to have some age cohort interaction during your vacation, a nice strategy is to bring some extra toys. Chances are he’ll make a buddy.

Playgrounds at Shades of Green

A small playground is also available at Shades of Green. The set has a small plastic slide and a couple of sections with a few steps for toddlers to go up and down. Safety seems to be Shades of Green's concern here - there are no swings, and the entire area is covered in a springy, poured rubber surface and sand.


Playground at Shades of Green


Transportation to and from Shades of Green

Driving Your Own Car Shades of Green is just off of I-4 in Lake Buena Vista. Take I-4 Exit 67 - Epcot/Downtown Disney. Exit onto World Drive. Take World Drive for about 2.1 miles and then turn left onto Floridian Way. Turn left onto Magnolia Palm Drive and Shades of Green will be on your left.

Shades of Green's GPS address and location are:

From Sanford International Airport It's about a 40-minute drive from Sanford to Shades of Green. If you're not renting a car, be aware that Sanford's airport offers fewer transportation options than Orlando's, and Sanford's options are generally much more expensive. A taxi from Sanford International Airport to Shades of Green will cost between $120 and $150, depending on traffic. Mears Transportation offers 3-passenger towncar service to Shades of Green for around $140 each way, plus tip; 5-passenger SUV service or 10-passenger van is around $190 each way. That means round-trip transportation will run you somewhere between $240 and $380, plus tip, between Sanford and Shades of Green. At those prices, it may be less expensive to rent a car and park it at the hotel.

Getting to the theme parks, water parks and Downtown Disney. Shades of Green runs continuous shuttles from the resort to the Transportation and Ticket Center, where guests can transfer to their final destinations. Shades of Green's bus stops sit along the front wall of the lobby. From the Transportation and Ticket Center guests can take a Monorail or Ferry boat to Magic Kingdom and a Monorail to Epcot.

Getting to another hotel from Shades of Green If you've got dining plans at another Disney hotel that is on the Monorail loop (Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower), the cheapest option is to take the bus from Shades of Green to Transportation and Ticket Center, then ride a Monorail from there to your destination hotel. Do the reverse to get back to Shades of Green. While that's free, it can take anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours each way.

The fastest option, however, is almost always a taxi from Shades of Green to wherever you're going; it's generally not more than a $20, 15-minute cab ride to get to most Disney hotels, and often less. Taxis are available outside the lobby; if a taxi is not already sitting out front, the bell services desk also serves as a taxi stand, and they'll call one for you.


Recreation and Things to Do

Shades of Green's fitness center is located near Manglno's Bistro.

Magnolia Spa is Shades of Green's full-service spa. Massages, body therapies and facials are available. Spa treatments are available 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Walkers, joggers and runners can find a jogging trail at Shades of Green. A jogging path runs from Shades of Green to Disney's Polynesian Resort and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort.


Miscellaneous Shades of Green

Coin-operated washers and dryers are in laundry facilities located on the first floor in the Magnolia Rooms or Palm Rooms building. The machines take quarters, and a change machine is provided. A small selection of soap, fabric softener, and dryer sheets are also sold. A typical wash cycle takes 20 to 30 minutes, and a typical dry cycle takes 40 to 50.

If you lose something during your stay, contact Shades of Green's Lost and Found department by calling (407) 824-3400.


Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?
Hotel Definitely (+/- since last year)
Shades of Green at Walt Disney World 78% (-14%)
Average for WDW hotels 76% (+0%)
Average for off-site hotels 57% (+0%)

Would you stay at this hotel again?
Hotel Definitely (+/- since last year)
Shades of Green at Walt Disney World 78% (-22%)
Average for WDW hotels 92% (+2%)
Average for off-site hotels 79% (-7%)

Hotel Photos

Video

Strengths and Weaknesses
Strengths Weaknesses
Large guest rooms No interesting theme
Informaility Limited on-site dining
Quiet setting Limited bus service
Views of golf course from guest rooms
Convenient self-parking
Swimming complex, fitness center
Video arcade
Game room with pool tables
Ice-cream shop
Free in-room internet and Wi-Fi

Commuting Times to the Parks
Park Commuting Times
Resort Transportation
Magic Kingdom 35 min
Epcot 33 min
Hollywood Studios 20 min
Animal Kingdom 22 min